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P.K. Subban 'pretty surprised' that Maple Leafs, Oilers didn't try to sign him

The 33-year-old announced his retirement from the NHL in September after a memorable 13-year career.

P.K. Subban was surprised with the relatively low level of interested he garnered around the league as a free agent, prompting him to announce his retirement in September. (Getty Images)
P.K. Subban was surprised with the relatively low level of interest he garnered around the league as a free agent, prompting him to announce his retirement in September. (Getty Images)

In September, former NHL defenceman P.K. Subban announced his retirement from hockey at the age of 33. With his playing days in the rear-view mirror, he's now looking back at his summer and his negotiations with teams with some amusement.

The Norris Trophy-winning blueliner was an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, and admits he was shocked by the lack of interest around the league.

“I was pretty surprised,” Subban said via Canoe.com. “I felt I could have helped a number of teams. As a free agent, I wanted to play on a contending team. I think Edmonton showed some interest. Carolina showed some interest. I did not have discussions with the Maple Leafs. They were not interested in signing me.

“I think a lot of people wanted me to continue to train for the first part of the season, but that’s not the player I am. I never thought of myself as a replacement player. I was always a top player in this league. I didn’t want to be a player who is in and out of the lineup every night.

“Money was never an issue for me. It was about the opportunity to come in and help a team win. I wanted to win a Stanley Cup. But those opportunities were never presented to me.”

When you hold yourself in high regard, playing for a team like, say, the Arizona Coyotes – whether they had interest or not – that is trying to lose games on purpose might not be the best place to try and have a career renaissance, after all.

Subban was no doubt in a sticky situation. Clearly, he wanted to play for a good team that had aspirations to lift the Stanley Cup, but in his last few years while playing for the New Jersey Devils, he seemed like a shadow of his former self on the ice. Instead of scoring boatloads of points and being the offensive play-driver that earned him his 13-year NHL career, Subban didn’t move as well as he once did and scored just 22 points in 77 games last season. That seems like a depth defender on a new team that would find himself in and out of the lineup, just as he feared.

Either way, Subban has embarked on a new career path that should be much more rewarding than losing hockey games. Less than two months after announcing his retirement, Subban joined ESPN as a full-time hockey analyst, where he has been able to bring his unique personality to the broadcast.

On Thursday, Subban will be returning to Montreal, the city he recently admitted he never wanted to leave, for a tribute before a game between the Canadiens and the Nashville Predators — the two franchises with which he starred in the NHL.

His retirement came earlier than expected, but Subban is still holding out hope that his name will be among the best in hockey someday.

“Who knows,” Subban said. “Maybe I’ll win a Stanley Cup as an owner.”

Subban played 834 games through 13 years in the NHL, and scored 115 goals and 467 points. He was named to the NHL’s All-Star Team three times and earned the Norris Trophy in 2013. The Toronto native earned over $78-million over the span of his career.

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